Have you ever felt a chill in your bones that made it feel impossible to get warm? Many of us experience this when we are walking outside in winter weather. However, seniors can be vulnerable to feeling cold often, even while relaxing in the warmth of their home. We are going to explore the various reasons why your elderly loved one might feel cold and provide ways to keep them warm.
Factors that Contribute to Seniors Feeling Cold
Lower Metabolic Rate. As an individual gets older, their metabolism decreases. The temperature of the inner parts of our body is regulated by heat production that results from metabolism. As a person’s metabolic rate decreases with age, it can be harder to preserve a warm body temperature.
Thinner Skin. The hypodermis, often referred to as the fat layer under the skin, helps to keep the body warm by providing insulation. This layer tends to thin with age which can make it difficult for an older person to feel warm. Additionally, when someone is cold, the blood vessels in their skin constrict in an effort to retain heat. However, aging can reduce the elasticity of blood vessel walls in the skin, making it even more challenging to remain warm in fluctuating temperatures.
Medication Side Effects. It’s no secret that many elderly individuals need to take medications to help them maintain optimal health. For example, the chance of having high blood pressure increases with age, and many seniors need to take medicine to regulate their blood pressure levels. Unfortunately, some of these medications such as beta blockers (which are used to treat high blood pressure) can modify the body’s ability to regulate temperature. If you are concerned that your medication could be causing you to feel cold, talk to your doctor to discuss if there may be alternative medicines you can take.
Poor Circulation. Many seniors suffer from poor circulation. This can be due to decreased activity levels which causes lower blood flow within the body. Capillary walls can also decrease slightly with age. This leads to poor circulation because the heart has to work harder to pump blood. Additionally, if your loved one is living with the effects of a stroke, diabetes, or a heart condition, these can all impact circulation.
How to Stay Warm when You Feel Cold All the Time
Wear Multiple Layers. It can be helpful for your senior loved one to wear multiple layers of thinner clothes. This will allow their body to feel warmer while simultaneously giving them the option to remove a layer if they start feeling too hot. If your loved one is relaxing inside, they can also wear layers of socks or slippers, and they can bundle up in a hat and scarf when spending time outdoors. Also, make sure the elderly person in your care has plenty of cozy blankets to use around the house when those cold feelings strike. Are regular blankets not doing the trick? Consider investing in an electric blanket with multiple heat settings and be mindful of safety instructions when in use.
Drink Warm Beverages. Sipping a warm drink can be instrumental in raising body temperature. Seniors can start their morning off with a hot beverage, such as coffee or their favorite kind of tea. If the elderly person in your life prefers non-caffeinated drinks, they can even enjoy hot water with lemon or a glass of warm milk.
Eat Regular Meals. Maintaining a regular diet is crucial when it comes to having a stable body temperature. Nutrition and healthy fats fuel the body and can help regulate temperature during colder weather. Our bodies produce heat by burning energy and without consistent meals, the body cannot gain enough energy to burn. If your senior loved one is having trouble planning meals, try speaking with a doctor or dietician to come up with a plan. If they need assistance cooking, there are several meal services available for seniors, such as the ones that our partners at Chefs for Seniors offer. Caregivers can also step in and help with meal preparation, if it is a burden for your loved one.If you have a senior loved one who is always cold, it is likely due to several physical changes which naturally occur as people age. However, it is important to remember that if you or your loved one is concerned about feeling cold, you should have a conversation with your doctor. There may be underlying health conditions causing the senior in your care to remain cold. If this is the case, it is crucial for your loved one to receive appropriate treatment, and a doctor can help you get to the root of the problem effectively.